Taste of the Nation - close up of crowd

On Sunday, the Montage’s Chef Craig Strong welcomed nine renowned L.A.-based chefs to his home turf for an afternoon of fantastic food, drinks and fundraising for the Share Our Strength Taste of the Nation event.

A national touring event, Taste of the Nation was devised several years ago as a culinary benefit to end childhood hunger. Nearly 50 cities are participating this year alone, but few can offer the dazzling backdrop of California’s “Riviera” here at the very edge of the Montage Resort’s property.

Montage bartenders - Taste of the Nation

In yet another annual repeat performance, guests at Sunday’s Taste raised nearly $200,000 for the “No Kid Hungry” project, which provides millions of meals and nutritional support services to U.S.-based children and their families struggling with hunger.

As Laguna’s locally grown band, The Kalama Brothers, crooned popular tunes, hundreds of guests roamed the grounds at the Studio restaurant, supping on gourmet small plates, sampling fine wines and top shelf cocktails, and bidding on silent and live auction items.

Chef Craig Strong - Diane Armitage

Their booth situated by the Studio’s own organic gardens, Chef Strong and Sous Chef Thomas Capretz proffered Grilled Octopus with Cauliflower Cacciatore, Amaranth and Piperade Sauce. Fellow chefs featured popular beef sliders, beef tartare, grilled scallops, inventive scoops of Ahi and more.

San Clemente’s Cellar restaurant offered a sprawling table of specialty cheeses and freshly baked treats (their house made lavender honey came awfully close to stealing the show). Not to be outdone, Montage Executive Pastry Chef Lee Smith commandeered the Studio’s entire front dining room with a variety of fluffy decadent desserts, each of which featured fresh strawberries.

“This is an event we absolutely love doing,” said Chef Strong. “And the guests who attend this event are so generous for this great cause.

“Childhood hunger is an issue near and dear to our hearts here at the Montage, and we participate at many levels because we’re committed to creating a better solution,” says Strong. “This event, though … this is something we all really look forward to and enjoy.”


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